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How can I be both a parent and a friend without compromising my authority?

13 Answers
Last Updated: 08/15/2017 at 4:28pm
1 Tip to Feel Better
United States
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Danielle Gonzales, PsyD


Hello! My name is Dani, I am a Psychologist and registered Psych Assistant. I have a passion for helping a different types of clients from all diverse backgrounds!

Top Rated Answers
November 16th, 2015 6:53am
the best we can do is be our children friends at all times, including while we're exercising our parental duties. it is hard, because we use the power of authority to convince them to do something, and that is not a very friendly way. the only advise that really works always is - respect. we must speak in a respectful manner to our children at all times. this will support the friendship while we're going through unpleasant parts of parenting like making them do or not do something. if we do it with all respect which we would have for any other friend in our lives, the balance will never go off. also, because our children are our reflections, they give us exactly what we are giving them, so, treating them in most respectful manner is a way to insure that they will treat us in the same way.
March 7th, 2016 5:55am
Respect. Honestly it is hard to put into words. Build trust and that easily flows through. Your authority must be always be respected by the other. You can be both a parent and friend without throwing authority out the window. be understanding, dont think your way is the ONLY way. See both sides. However also know what is right and wrong. Look for balance. Dont flow on being a friend without remembering your role as a responsible adult in their life/lives. :) Do bonding things. think back on your life when you were just like their age. I mean things were a bit different but try to apply that as well. You can do it.
February 8th, 2015 1:41pm
The best way to be both a parent and a friend to your child without compromising your authority is to give your child some amount of freedom. The amount will have to depend on how responsible you deem your child to be based off of your knowledge of him/her/them. You can then judge what you trust them with and what you prefer to have some control over, allowing them to make decisions on their own, but only decisions that you believe they are capable of making on their own. For more hefty decisions that you want to have a say on, you need to approach them with a non-authoritarian air. You are not a dictator. Be there for your child, talk through their choices, and let them know what you think is best and why. This will give your child a sense of responsibility over their own self, without putting them at risk of making too horrible of a mistake.
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April 7th, 2015 9:36pm
In my personal experience with three teens, I have always chosen to be a parent but now that they are teens, our relationship is changing and I have to try to connect with them while still setting appropriate boundaries. Let your children know that you love and respect them and their opinions but you are the parents and will make most of the decisions. When they are older, it is ok to give them some decisions to make with your guidance. They will learn to become independent. I will allow my children to give me reasons if they believe a specific rule should be changed but this does not mean I will change the rule. It is my decision, but giving them a voice makes them feel valued and heard. It has a lot to do with their developmental level. This is a really good question and many parents struggle with this.
May 19th, 2015 5:47pm
There is no wrong or right way to be a parent. We can only hope that when a child needs us to be a friend that we're there and when they need they're mother or father that we're there too. So just being there for them is all we can really do.
June 6th, 2015 12:24pm
This is a tightrope experience. Sometimes, you will find yourself too far on one end or the other. Remember , that although your child wants your friendship, she also wants boundaries. Here is a recent example from my life. My 16yr. old (youngest of 7) has a Cinderella license. That means, legally, she needs to be home at 11:00 pm. One time, she went to a movie with her boyfriend and other friends. But, they ended up going to a later showing because one of the kids couldn't make the one they planned. She suddenly realized that she was going to go over the 11:00 curfew. Our kids have always known that they must get home. And so, she called and explained. She was only a few minutes late, so I didn't make a big deal out of it. Then, just the other week, she had to go back to her boyfriend's house to get her car. She left about 9:00. I said, "You're coming right back, right?" She said, "Yes." There was a storm that evening. She didn't come home on time. I was thinking the worst. It is dark. The roads are wet. She is an inexperienced driver who is overly confident. I called. No answer. She got home at midnight. The hammer came down. Hard! She had taken our "friendship" too far. I had to move back to a parental position.
June 23rd, 2015 3:11am
Always show some love and care for your child but make sure they know where they belong. Protect your child and be authoritative when needed but make sure they know that you're someone they can talk to for help and that you're doing everything out of love.
July 11th, 2015 8:38pm
I would say that being a great parent is when you are showing interest and understanding for how different your children is no matter how difficult it is for you to understand his perspective. Knowing that you are making your best to support their path, listening to you when they have difficulties in choosing something it should come easier as they know you have a lot more experience.
September 21st, 2015 4:26am
Well you can try, and that is your choice. Only you know what is best for you and your child. However, everyone is different. It may be hard to set certain boundaries if you try to intertwine both. So try to really think about what it is you want from you child and choose wisely. Good Luck.
November 10th, 2015 5:22am
Once they start challenging your position as parent that's your cue that you've been a little to friend-like with them.
November 12th, 2015 6:10am
There is no way to be a friend while you are parenting. You are not their friend. You are their parent only, and that is the way it should be. Friends do not have authority. Only parents do.
July 5th, 2016 1:33pm
It helps your relationship in that way if you are empathetic and understanding of the emotions and thoughts they are having, and make time to spend with them doing things they enjoy. However, you are the parent. Other people can be their friend, but no one else should be their parent. Because being the parent is your job and being their buddy isn't, sometimes you just have to let go of trying to feel like their friend. They may not enjoy you doing your job as parent right now, but that will likely change as they mature.
August 15th, 2017 4:28pm
So I work with children as my job and passion-project, and I've dealt with this extensively. I've always been really frustrated by the mantra of "your children are not your friends", which is often used as an excuse to mistreat children. A mentor once gave me a nice addendum to that statement, which was, yes, you're right, they're not your friends, since you're not social peers and as an adult, you do have power that a child doesn't have, but that doesn't mean you can't *be friendly*. There are kind ways of being authoritative. Those two things don't have to be mutually exclusive.